• Posted: Nov 03, 2007 14:54:36
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Biologically speaking, the purpose of sexual intercourse is reproduction. Indiscriminate sex, that is intercourse with many partners with no significant thought to qualification, would seem the most efficient strategy for ensuring progeny are both numerous and endowed with a variety of adaptive traits. But humans are not so simple. The human brain adds considerable complexity to the dynamics of human interaction. Many of us practice what might be termed "discriminate sex". That is, we consider a variety of variables before deciding whether or not to have intercourse. The purpose, one might suppose, is to ensure "desirable" traits in our offspring and, perhaps more importantly, to secure a commitment to long-term cooperation in the rearing of those little ones.
But people do not always couple up for the sole purpose of raising children. Companionship, or the augmentation and support for one's sense of meaningful connection or completeness, quite often takes over as the principle motivation behind dating. However, the search for completeness is not easy, and in fact very often not even enjoyable. With the real possibility of "failure" and/or rejection continuously looming, the process can become so unnerving that many don't even attempt it. Staying at home alone, self-medicating, or reverting to psychologically less stressful indiscriminate sex are alternatives many choose instead.
Mary, who likes Oreo cookies, and who generally doesn't really think all that much about having children or hooking up with a steady boyfriend, has today agreed to meet someone, the brother of a friend at work. Mary works in a hospital as part of the housekeeping staff. She likes her job for the physical activity it requires and for the oportunity to be involved, though peripherally, in the developing drama of so many interesting lives. She finds it very much more engaging than television or magazines.
Hank, on the other hand, has reluctantly agreed to meet Mary at his sister's urgings. He knows his sister, a nurse, has good intentions, but he also knows from long experience that he doesn't fit in well with others. He doesn't enjoy teasing or engaging in gossip. He isn't interested in sports. He doesn't like crowds. He doesn't smoke or drink. He pretty much just likes doing his job, driving a truck, and listening to jazz. He has no expectation whatsoever of getting married.
And so, this particular play begins. Will the human brains involved frazzle under the stress? Or, will they eventually succeed negotiating the myriad tangles of discrimination and compromise leading to the establishment of mutual trust, endearment, and the possibility of sexual intimacy?
Then again, the mysterious flames of passion might fail to ignite for either party. Self-absorption could prevail. This meeting could turn out to be of little significant consequence for anyone, except for the Oreo cookies. Somehow, I'd find that sad.
February 1970, New Orleans